Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Qualifying Meet

The CYO track and field season ends with a series of three championship meets, beginning with the Qualifying meet, then the Sectional, and then the Diocese championship. There are all sorts of rules that we follow for these meets -- here's an overview.

  • Second graders are promoted

Starting with the Qualifying meet, all second graders are magically blessed into third graders for the remainder of the season. They usually find this very exciting. They will line up with and compete as third graders from Saturday's meet forward.

  • Home-side 50m/100m only

After a season of dividing up the 50m/100m races, we're back to holding them all on the home side. This gives the athletes a chance to rest between races, and makes sure that all the timing is handled consistently. It also makes the day go longer, alas.

  • Everyone in the stands

We're normally pretty tolerant of athletes -- and the occasional stray parent -- being on the field during the meets. Starting with the Qualifying meet, though, we insist on parents and athletes waiting in the stands. This is the norm at the Sectional and Diocese meets as well. Penalties range from being asked firmly to sit down, to being asked to leave the meet, to disqualification of the athlete.

Only volunteers who are signed in to a job by their parishes are allowed to be on the field, and must remain at their assigned job for their shift. Even if that means having to miss seeing your child compete somewhere else at the meet, you need to stay put. Track meets ebb and flow, and we're doing our best to keep you busy the whole time.

Athletes not in line for a field event or for the next race have to get back in the stands to wait for their calls. No athletes may pace (run alongside) another athlete. No coaches or family members may do this, either.

Don't risk it. Sit in the stands unless you're assigned to a job, and stay at your job once appointed. Keep your athletes with you in the stands by tempting them with water, snacks, and a comfortable place for them and their friends to hang out.

If you plan to bring some portable shade, set up in the back row of the stadium, or camp out on the away-side, which is lightly occupied at best. You can always walk over to the main side to watch a finish as long as you're not on the track or blocking someone else's view. I like to pack a pair of small sport binoculars for these meets.
  • General seriousness

This meet is where we have to crack down on all sorts of details:

- Baton handoffs inside the zone
- Softball throwers stay behind the line
- Long jumpers not stepping beyond the take-off board (taped area)
- High jump and shot put run by the book

Field events are called by grade, and will close when that grade is done. Athletes who miss their calls may not participate in an event once it's closed. Please help your athletes listen for their field events, and make sure they register when their grade opens up. We can keep a grade open for a little while if we have a signed-in athlete who left to race, but we won't hold it open all day.

Races also close, so we can't squeeze in late runners. For races, "closed" means "the paperwork has left the clerk's hands." Once signed in to a race, an athlete must stay at the clerk area. They can't wander off to finish long jump or go to the bathroom.

If you want to play Announcement Bingo, here's the call sheet we'll be using on Saturday:

Read the sheet from top to bottom to see how the calls will be made. I cannot give estimates of when a particular event will take place, sorry.

Judges and timers will be working very carefully to get good results, and disputes typically involve a quick coordinator confab so we can settle things on the track. Discrepancies in the results have to be resolved at the meet.

After the meet, the results will take extra time to post as all the coordinators gather for a seeding meeting for our Sectional meet. I'll post them when we're cleared by the league.

It's a level of seriousness that we have avoided during the practice meets, but is the best way we know of trying to keep everything fair. Please bear with us as we bring extra scrutiny to the events.

  • Relay teams are "parish pure" and "gender pure"

Starting with the Qualifying meet, all the athletes on a relay team must be enrolled in the same parish, and the entire team needs to be made up of boys or girls. No more mixed-parish or co-ed teams allowed.

This is bad news for the smaller parishes, including St. Catherine and St. Stephen. Even though CTK/SC/SS practices and runs as one team, CYO divides up by parish. These are the same rules the CYO basketball teams follow -- you can't have a mixed-parish basketball team, either. Sorry, you may not wear a different shirt.

4x100 teams must also be grade-pure. All athletes on the team in the same grade, remembering that 2nd graders are now treated as 3rd graders.

4x400 teams may be mixed grade, with the team running up as the oldest athlete.

This year, the Medley relay is going to be run at the diocese final as an actual, official event. According to the program, teams from each grade in boys and girls will compete. We're in uncharted waters here, but it's a good argument for families to stick around to the end of the qualifying meet so we can try to get as many Medley teams qualified as we can. I think Medley teams may also contain mixed grades: I'll get confirmation before Saturday.

One more relay item: it is the team that qualifies, not the four runners. Coaches may, at their discretion, swap in a different athlete into a qualifying team.

If your athlete has the good fortune to have run on such a team but can't make it to Sectionals, please notify the primary coach and me so we can arrange for an alternate to step in. Substitutions are usually only done in cases of unavoidable conflicts, be it First Communion, Comstock soccer, or a visit from Great Aunt Marge.

Arguing with a coach about a relay team is a guaranteed way to keep your athlete off the team. The coaches have been working with your children for months, and I trust their judgment and stand by their decisions. (See the section on keeping perspective, below.)

  • Results combined across heats for all events

During the practice meets, we give ribbons to the top finishers in each heat. However, during the Qualifying meet and beyond, placement is overall for the whole event. We will run as many heats as necessary, but only the top fastest times in the events will progress to next week.

This change is the hardest one to explain to new athletes. ("How could I be fifth? I came in first!") It's the nature of the championships: we need to narrow the field for the sectional and the diocese meets.

  • Progression to the next meet

Typically, it's the top three finishers plus the fourth-place alternate that progress. The 800m and 1600m races and the field events may offer a few more opportunities since they are not limited by lanes, but it's still a very small number overall who move on.

The 4x400 relay is handled differently: the four fastest teams overall will move ahead. This is usually the realm of seventh- and eighth-grade teams, but it's not a guarantee. We will still run all takers in the 4x400 at the Qualifying meet, but the seeding meeting will determine the final qualifiers based on league rules.

Again, I think the Medley is being handled the same as the 4x100 relay, which is determined by top finishing teams per grade and gender.
  • As always, keep perspective!

We try to be as fair as possible with these final meets, but the championships are another one of those "keep perspective" opportunities.

If your athlete was on the cusp of being an alternate but didn't make the cut, please don't take this as a slight against you, your family, or your athlete. Remember the all-volunteer nature of CYO, and breathe! Ditto for relay teams -- not making it on a relay team does not doom your child to a life of unending sadness.

Our team's focus is fun and personal achievement. CYO is a program for children, not adults. Kids are surprisingly resilient, and are far more likely to remember a season of hanging out with track friends than where they ranked in the 400m or whether or not they made it in the 4x100m team.

Always congratulate them on their efforts, and encourage them to come back next season if they had a good time, no matter how their actual marks come out.

1 comment:

Christy said...

Thanks, Mike for being so thorough and informative all season long. Your emails and posts are so detailed, we are never left with questions! Much appreciated!